My Favorite Loon Pics of 2021

January 09, 2022  •  1 Comment

Looking back on my favorite loon pix from the two families I followed in 2021. A little late for the end of the year, but close enough for government work. 

Both families were in the Upper Connecticut River Valley area. Sorry, I learned the hard way not to post exactly where. One family hatched two chicks, the other family only one. All the chicks survived until the end of the season. 

Here's our family with two chicks. The chicks have hatched over the previous two days and have yet to venture away from the nest. They've gone into the water a little ways when the parent swimming brought them food, then returned to the nest. (I never determined which loon was which parent. The loon on the nest was banded, but even when it was in hand, the experts couldn't tell. For my story, I've decided she was mom.) Shortly after this image was taken, the family set out from the nest, never to return. 

Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

The chicks rapidly took advantage of the parent's offer to ride.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Here are the chicks at four and five days old. They've already roughly doubled in size.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

The parents on this pond were partial to crayfish and many of the chick's meals were crayfish. This pond is relatively shallow overall. I wonder if the shallow water made crayfish easier to find, or if they were more plentiful than fish.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Not much life from the wings yet. Our four or five day old chick is stretching.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Our chicks settling in for a rest. The little guy under the wing makes this shot. Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

We're at ten and eleven days old. The chicks seem to be talking things over. There's no family cooperation with chicks, the world is every chick for himself.   Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Something about me must have appeared interesting. This chick approached the boat to see what I was up to.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

We're just stretching. But, we look very happy about it! Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

I keep an eye out for the other residents of the loon's ponds. This is Hank Heron, found early one morning when I went to check on the loons. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

A nice portrait of the banded adult and the chicks just over one month old. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.
 

A big trout for a little bird.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.
Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Still no lift from the wings, just another stretch.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

The chicks learn to forage on their own fairly quickly. The adults will feed them all summer, but after the parents leave (before the chicks), they're on their own. This little one is still learning what is edible and what isn't. Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.
 

This is one of the parents from our other family (Dad, I think) stretching. 

Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.
 

Another trout going down the hatch. Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

A shot of one of our chicks at about five weeks.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

An eagle made several passes over the loon's pond one morning. The parents herded the chicks close to my boat for protection. The chicks flatten out in the water to make themselves hard to see. After all was clear, this guy stretched before getting back to feeding.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

There was a pair of Canada geese on the pond with a gosling. Mostly, the loons and geese ignored each other. But a couple times, the loons suggested to the geese that they should go elsewhere. Our adult loon has just surfaced near the goose family and explains the benefits of going away.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Adolescent chicks will poke and nibble at the adults - usually around the neck - when they want to be fed. Which seems to be most of the time they're not sleeping. Here, our 'teenage' chick has grabbed the feather's on a parent's neck to say it is time to eat. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.
The one chick from our second family stretching, at about eight weeks.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.

Back to our two chick family and another meal of crayfish.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19. Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.
The last time I saw our two chicks. They're big enough now that their wings are working. The chicks made several short flights across the pond. By the time I had a chance to get back to the pond, the family had moved on. Most likely, they winter in the Atlantic off the coast of New England. The adults are likely to return to their pond in the spring. The chicks will spend three years in the ocean before coming back inland to try to find a mate and a pond to call their own.   Common loonCommon loonCommon loons with chicks. The chicks hatched on June 18 & 19.


Dexter & Romeo 2022 Calendar

November 16, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Dexter & Romeo now have a 2022 wall calendar available. You can follow their adventures throughout 2022 with this 12-month spiral bound 8.5x11” color calendar. They CHOMP, RAWR and roll through the year.

Lulu.com is printing and distributing them. You can order yours at https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/ian-clark/dexter-romeo-2022/paperback/product-68gd85.html.

Here are the photos used in the calendar:

 

Front cover:

Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont January

Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont
February

Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont March

Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont

April (I love how happy Romeo looks!)

Dexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo

May
Dexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo

June

Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont
July
Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont
August
Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont

September (My favorite jazz hands moment!)
Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont
October (We had to include a RAWR shot!)
Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont
November OK, OK, a couple RAWR shots....)
Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont

December (possibly Dexter's best derp yet!
Dexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo Back cover (they do rest once in a while)

Dexter and RomeoDexter and RomeoDexter and Romeo playing At Oscar's Dog Park, Newbury Veterinary Clinic, Newbury, Vermont

You can order yours at https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/ian-clark/dexter-romeo-2022/paperback/product-68gd85.html
 


Loon Chicks at Ten Weeks, September 7, 2021

September 07, 2021  •  11 Comments

Our loon chicks are now about ten and a half weeks old. I had a chance to catch up with them this morning. Both chicks seem to be doing well. They're growing fast. Both are feeding on their own - as well as pestering their parents for food. They're getting fairly independent, one wander off something like a half mile from the parent on duty this morning. (Only one parent was around this morning, the other has probably headed off for a short break.)
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

One of the osprey made an appearance as well. It flew over the pond a few times, then settled on a branch to watch. After several minutes, it flew back over with a nice breakfast. 
OspreyOspreyOsprey
OspreyOspreyOsprey

Most of the loon's morning was spent foraging, or pestering the parent to forage. The loons didn't seem to have much luck catching fish. The parent surfaced several times with fingerlings, but never a good-sized fish. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

But, crayfish were plentiful.
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Here's our parent inbound with another crayfish. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The handoff.... Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Oh, oh,  a fumble! Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The crayfish didn't get far, our chick ties again.. Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Ouch! Looks like the chick got pinched! Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The chick is determined and tries again. Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Let's see if it will go down this way.... Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Drats! Another fumble! Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

OK, this time is going to work.... Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

No! Not again! Once more the crayfish makes a break for it! Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

But the crayfish's luck runs out.... Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

As soon as our parent surfaced this morning, at least one of the chicks would head over and start pestering the parent for a meal. If the parent was delivering a meal, the chick would eat that and immediately start pestering. The parent was rarely on the surface for more than a few second at a time. The parent was  pretty good at deflecting the chick's bill away, but the chicks were persistent and often managed to pinch the parent.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

One of our chicks eventually took a break from foraging and did some feather maintenance. 

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Followed by a stretch... Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The trees on the hills around our pond are already turning a little rusty. We've got just a few weeks left before our family moves on. 


Saturday Morning With The Loon Family, August 21, 2021

August 21, 2021  •  3 Comments

Our loon chicks are now ten weeks old. I had a chance to visit them on Saturday. Both appear to be doing well. Both have grown considerably since I last visited (18 days ago). They're now nearly adult size. They're foraging on their own, but still want their parents to feed them. They're getting very independent, much of the morning the family was spread out over something like half a mile of pond. Both chicks surfaced with crayfish and I saw a couple instances where a chick brought up a fish to get it pointed in the right direction, but not sure if it was both chicks or one repeatedly. 

They've lost their fluffy look and are growing into their winter plumage. Their bills are elongated and now look like the adult's. 

Let's go back to when they were five and six days old. Notice their bills. 
Common loons with chicksCommon loons with chicksCommon loon with chicks

This chick surfaced close to my boat this morning, you can see the how the bill has changed. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Loon chicks will pester their parents when they're hungry (which seems to be most of the time they're not sleeping). They'll poke and nibble their parent, usually around the neck, until the parent dives. The parents kept their distance from the chicks for much of the morning. They'd close up now and again and spend some time feeding the chicks. Several times I saw a chick try to approach a parent, only to have the parent dive and move away. They probably just needed some peace and quiet for a few minutes. 

Here's a chick closing in on one of the parents. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

And a few shots of the chicks pestering an adult.
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The chicks are serious about getting attention. You can often see them grab hold of the adult's feathers. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
And when grabbing a few feathers doesn't get action, a bigger bite and twisting may do the trick. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Now we're getting somewhere! One of the adults has caught a crayfish. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The handoff!
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Oh no! It is one of those dastardly crayfish that wants to put up a fight!

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Maybe a fish will be easier.

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Yup, that works.

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Of course, there's preening to be done. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
And a couple of stretches after they've done their preening. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
 


Checking In With The Loons, August 4, 2021

August 04, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Our loon family with two chicks was receiving visitors yesterday morning, August 3. The chicks are now 46 & 47 days old. They both appear to be doing well. They're diving, and occasionally catching food, on their own. But, they're always hungry and encouraging the parents to feed them. 

The loons will have to take a brief hiatus. I'll be down at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair for through August 15. I'll resume the story as soon as possible after the Fair. 

The loons were foraging at the far end of the pond from the boat launch, I ran into some of the usual suspects along the way to see the loons. This is the most common view I get of common mergansers:

Common loonCommon loonCommon merganser, New Hampshire
 

Hank Heron was out and about. 
Great blue heronGreat blue heronGreat blue heron

The fishing wasn't very good this morning. Hank caught just one small fish while I watched. The loons came up with a few small fish for the chicks and the osprey made sever or eight dives without catching anything before perching to watch for a meal. 
Great blue heronGreat blue heronGreat blue heron OspreyOspreyOsprey

This was the largest fish I saw the parents hand off to the chicks. 

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The parents were foraging fairly far away from the chicks. They were covering a good portion of their pond. 
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire
 

An early morning stretch. Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

One of the loons took some time off from feeding the chicks to preen and stretch.

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The chicks are getting big. From a distance, it is hard to tell them from their parents. Their fluff is going and their feathers are growing in.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire

The chicks were actively foraging in the shallow water. They both managed to catch food. There appeared to be several dragonfly nymphs, but most of what they caught was too small for me to ID.  Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire Common loonCommon loonCommon loon, New Hampshire